Freelancing can be a highly lucrative career with the right skills, marketing, and branding. Many freelance professionals earn six figure incomes and together with the benefits of working for yourself, a freelance lifestyle is not one to complain about.
However, it’s not perfect and that’s because your income is basically dependent on your time. When you’re not working, you’re not earning. If you fall ill for any length of time or just want to get away from things, then your income will be non-existent, and that’s a big problem.
It’s also very difficult to scale your freelancing income. You can only take on so many clients at a time, and while you can raise your rates, there is eventually going to be an income ceiling you can’t break through.
So what’s an alternative?
Turn services into products
A great way to supplement, or even replace, your freelance services is to create related products.
Productizing your service business allows you to earn money 24 hours a day, even when you’re sleeping. When you transform some of your services into products, you not only gain unlimited income potential but also, in the long-term, free up more of your time.
Creating products needn’t be difficult either. You’re taking the skills, knowledge, and experience you already use in your services to deliver similar value in product form.
You’re basically teaching people how to do some of the things you can do, so they can do these things themselves, although perhaps not as well.
Unlike with your billable hours, once you’ve created a product, it can then be sold an infinite number of times. A well-developed product might sell for the same amount of money you normally charge a client per day.
After the hard work of creating and marketing the product, there’s often relatively little you need to do in order to enjoy ongoing sales and income.
How to decide what product to create
Will it sell?
Before creating a product it’s important to determine whether there is a need among your target audience for such information. There’s nothing worse than investing long hours into product development only to find no one really cares.
Use your experience as a freelancer working with clients to pinpoint what type of questions they most frequently ask and the main problems they face. These will usually be a good indicator of subjects to create products around.
Look also at what’s selling well elsewhere. What information and learning products seem popular on other sites? This will give you a good sense of what people want and are willing to pay for.
Who are you targeting?
It’s usually best to aim a product at the same general market you provide services for. However, there may be smaller niches within that market where products can be created for more focused requirements and needs.
For example, a freelance personal stylist might create a course for young women who want to follow in her footsteps. This is a related yet distinctly different audience than the one she targets for her styling services.
Decide on the hungriest audience within your existing market and aim the product and related marketing towards them.
Developing a product
Can you create the product yourself? Developing a product requires a variety of skills including things like copywriting, content creation, graphic design, web design, video making, and more.
It’s unlikely any freelancer can create a product completely alone without some outside help.
Consider what format your product should take based on your existing skills, personality, subject matter, target audience, and the resources you have at your disposal.
What are some common product formats? What type of products can you create?
As an experienced freelancer with expertise in your particular subject, you have the skills to teach other people. You can do this by creating courses and tutorials covering topics your target market is desperate to learn about.
Courses can be small or large. They can cost anything from a couple of dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on the scope and the subject matter.
People can access them via existing teaching platforms or through your own website. There’s a lot of easy-to-use automated software which can handle and process payments and course delivery.
You may already have a newsletter you send to your email list every week or month. A great way to create repeat revenue is by writing a premium newsletter people will be willing to pay for.
The information contained within the premium version will be lengthier and more in-depth. You can share the strategies and tips you usually only share with your paying clients.
For added differentiation and premium appeal, you can deliver the information as an actual printed newsletter. People still love reading words on paper and feeling the texture of natural materials in their hands.
You can also sell licenses for products you create rather than granting exclusive access. A photographer selling stock photos or a programmer selling licenses to their plugins, are some examples.
Freelance designers, developers, illustrators, and other creatives have a lot of earning potential with licensed products.
Books are usually the first item freelancers think of when deciding to create a product. Whether electronic or paperback, books are a highly popular and affordable way to discover new information and insights.
A well-written book, in whatever format, can quickly establish you as a thought leader and expert in your field. Self-publishing platforms give you the potential to reach larger audiences when combined with intelligent marketing and branding.
You can also turn your existing services into packages thereby making them more appealing to prospects. While not products per se, the packages offer a streamlined and potentially more lucrative version of the sometimes mismatched services you advertise.
Packaging services is when you combine 2 or more services together. For example, a freelance copywriter might bundle website copywriting, blog writing, and 1-to-1 consultations, into one paid package. The client pays for and receives all the services together.
Packaged services make things easier for both the freelancer and the client. Both parties know exactly what they’re receiving and providing, as well as the exact costs.
You can also include products you’ve created into the packages. This will allow you to raise the price of your combined services without doing any extra work.
Services and Products
As a freelancer you can sell both services and products. One doesn’t negate the other. They often work best in tandem, supporting and completing one another.
When it comes to marketing, the appeal of your core freelance services can be increased with the addition of paid products on your website, which show you’re truly an expert in your field.
Products give you that freedom to ease away from providing services whenever you need to recharge. You have more liberty to choose only the client projects that really fuel your creativity rather than accepting any that meet your minimum requirements.
Selling products is also fun and highly rewarding, and can lead to a growing fan-base attracted to your brand, to which you can then sell more products and services later on.
Practice creating a small product to begin with, perhaps a short premium eBook, then see where your creativity and the needs of your marketplace take you from there.